John Wall wasn't at Dave Telep's Carolina Challenge on Saturday, but his impact was felt nevertheless.
The former Word of God star competed in the high school basketball showcase a year ago. This year he is showcasing his talents for Kentucky in the NCAA tournament.
"For him to get out of Raleigh and do what he has done has made all of us want to work that much harder," said Dezmine Wells, a Word of God junior who has committed to Xavier. "I know how hard he worked and how competitive he is.
"He is so much better than he was a year ago. It just makes all of us want to work that hard, too."
Wells was among the 80 high school players from North Carolina who played in the fourth annual Challenge at Cary Academy. Telep, the director of scouting for the Scout.com Web recruiting site, is the host.
"I told our guys this is one of the most important days for them to show what they can do," said Wells Gulledge, who coached Kinston to the N.C. High School Athletic Association 2-A championship two weeks ago. "You can get noticed here."
Telep stressed that getting noticed and shooting every time you touch the ball are not synonymous.
Greensboro Dudley's 6-foot-6 shooting guard P.J. Hairston knows the difference.
"My goal was to get everybody involved," said Hairston, who has committed to North Carolina. "Everybody in the gym knows I can score. I wanted to show I can get everyone involved."
There was no denying Hairston's ability to score. He showed a deft shooting touch from long distance but also showed he is stronger than a year ago and more powerful going to the basket. When he wanted to score, he did so essentially every time.
Wells had the same sort of explosiveness and was clearly a standout. He appreciates the legacy of Wall, who like him and former Xavier standout David West, grew up in Garner.
"I think David's success was a factor in Xavier getting on me early," said Wells, who has been at Word of God since the seventh grade.
Poor rim: Imagine the abuse the driveway basketball rim at Marshall Plumlee's home has absorbed.
Duke reserves Mason and Miles Plumlee, plus Marshall, all over 6-foot-10, have played on the same rim for years.
"But we were not always so tall," Marshall Plummer said with a laugh.
Marshall Plumlee plays for Arden Christ School and is a much better player than he was a year ago in the Challenge and even better than he was last December in the GlaxoSmithKline Invitational.
He runs better, has more strength, moves well and is an exceptional inside passer.
"I want to work hard but also do the right kind of work," Plumlee said.
He said it would be great to play with his brothers at Duke and he has an offer from the Blue Devils, but it is no slam dunk that he'll join the Blue Devils.
"I'm going to go through the recruiting process," he said. "There are lots of great institutions out there, and I want to investigate them.."
Millbrook coach Scott McInnes, who coached Plumlee's team Saturday, said he believes Plumlee will continue to improve.
"He is incredible in the huddle. So coachable," McInnes said. "You tell him something in the huddle, and he goes out and tries to do it."
Among his offers are Duke, Minnesota, Purdue, Indiana, Notre Dame, Georgia Tech, Virginia, Ohio State, Florida and Michigan.
Miller is big time: The highest-rated player in the Challenge was Quincy Miller, a Chicago-area native who plays at Winston-Salem Quality Education, a charter school.
He has grown to 6-foot-10 but has the ball-handling skills of a point guard, the shooting range of a "2" guard, plus the inside fluidness of a wing forward. He said he is working on his jump shot: work as in about 1,000 jump shots per day.
Miller has scholarship offers galore and rolled off a list that included Georgetown, Memphis, Oklahoma, Wake Forest, Duke, Kentucky, Tennessee, Texas, Connecticut, Syracuse, Louisville, Kansas and West Virginia.
His biggest factor in picking from among the group will be style of play. He wants to play when he can use his multiple abilities.
He plays for Wall's former club team, D-One Sports, which is managed by Brian Clifton.
Lewis passes: Tyler Lewis, who attracted national attention with scholarship offers when he was in the eighth grade, is a passing machine. Balls directed by him almost magically appear in teammates' hands.
He is used to playing in the spotlight, he said. He likes the pressure but also knows that there is more pressure because people look for flaws.
"People use my height against me," said the 5-foot-11 Forsyth Country Day junior. "But I work very hard on defense to stay between my man and the basket."
He is bigger and stronger than a year ago.
He holds offers from Virginia Tech, Auburn, Charlotte, Virginia Commonwealth, Appalachian State, High Point and Richmond, and Stanford also has shown interest in the almost straight-A Lewis.
More Challenge: Rodney Purvis, a freshman at Raleigh Upper Room, attended but did not play because of an injury.
Oak Ridge had four players in the Challenge, including Jacob Lawson, who has offers from Syracuse, Seton Hall, Miami, N.C. State and Wake Forest. Lawson helped Northern Guilford to the NCHSAA 3-A state title in 2009, but the school later forfeited the crown.
Cougars get noticed: Wake Forest-Rolesville junior football linemen Ryan Doyle (6-6, 265) and Dylan Intemann (6-6, 300) are landing some college scholarship offers.
Doyle already has an offer from Maryland while N.C. State and Wake Forest have offered Intemann, who also had an offer from East Carolina when Skip Holtz was the Pirates' coach.
Terrell Hartsfield (6-4, 225), a two-time defensive conference player of the year at Wake Forest, has committed to Texas Tech. Hartsfield was too old to play for the high school team last fall. He is expected to attend Hargrave Military Academy this fall before going to Texas Tech.
Duke recruit: Duke women's basketball recruit Chelsea Gray of Stockton (Calif.) St. Mary's has been named the national co-player of the year by Parade magazine. The 5-foot-11 guard is a three-time Parade All-America and helped St. Mary's to the No. 1 ranking by USA Today and ESPN Rise. She averaged 17 points, 6.3 assists, 5.4 steals and 4.2 rebounds.
She shared Parade's player of the year award with Stanford recruit Chiney Ogwumike of Cypress, Texas.
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